Keeping in shape while travelling can be hard. I love gyms, and even though it’s possible to stay in shape using body weight exercises it bores the heck out of me. For me finding the best countries to retire cheap also requires finding a good gym in the potential city. More of my checklists here Which is better Bangkok or Medellin?
When I landed in Cuenca, Ecuador, the first thing I looked for was a gym. It didn’t have to be fancy, just clean & some basic equipment. (The second thing I usually look for is a bar….heh …. Hot pussy & cold beer in Cebu
I found one place, and stayed there for a month. While it was clean and basic, it was a little small. Month two I signed up at Zona Gym (best way to contact them is on Facebook : Zona Gym Cuenca)
For $20 USD it includes a couple things that don’t exist in most gyms in South America.
- It’s open. Most gyms in South America open at 6am and then shut down in the afternoon. (They reopen again at 4 or 5pm. ) Zona actually stays open till they close at 10pm.
- Unfortunately like most gyms in South America, they still close at odd hours on the weekend. 2pm Saturday and 1pm Sunday (although to be fair most gyms don’t even open Sundays here). When I asked them about this, they answered “We have to be closed sometimes for resting.” Hmmmmn….seriously forget a fancy 24hr gym like Snap Fitness. Somebody could make a killing just opening a gym that is open 7 days a week.
- Another thing about gyms in South America, they think slow salsa music is good for working out music. Tip: Bring headphones.
Here’s a few little quirks about working out in Ecuador. Protein powder is $100 USD for a 5lb tub. That’s right. Literally next time I fly in, I’ll be bringing a second suitcase for protein powder and supplements. And shoes? How does $200 for a nice pair of Nike’s sound? (You can get knockoffs for cheap.) Same thing for headphones, super expensive or not available if you want good ones. So, those are a few things to make sure you bring with you from Canada.
To balance it out though, the food options are great! You can buy quail eggs pre-cooked on the street like the Ecuadorian version of hot dogs. $1 USD gets you 10 quail eggs. A perfect post work out snack. Super tasty too!
Chicken breasts and beef, are all super fresh and relatively cheap at little tiny neighborhood markets. I got 4 lbs of steak, and a quarter chicken for $9.25.
Also juice bars are everywhere. You can get a fresh carrot/alfalfa juice for $1 USD.
One other thing that is neat is that Cuenca is high altitude. So if you’ve ever wanted to try high altitude training, this is a great spot for it.
So while protein powder, supplements and vitamins are super expensive. Cuenca, Ecuador is a great place if you want to have a fun Gymcation. Want to know more about Ecuador? Can you retire on $1000 CDN in Ecuador . I hope this article helped you with your quest of finding the best country to retire cheap. Scroll to the bottom of the page for more tips and articles on finding the cheapest places to retire. And if you liked the article, please share on social media (I’d love it if you did!)